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SEVEN THINGS THAT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF YOUR BEING – Part 3

October 14, 2018

 

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this article series we began to examine a new perspective that quantum physics is beginning to reveal about what we are as material beings. Not who we are, but what we are, existentially. I mean, what are we to think of ourselves? Religions and cultures from all corners of the world have produced myths over thousands of years about what we are ‘as creatures’, ‘as beings’ and how we indeed came to be. In fact, at the fountainhead of every culture there is a creation myth about how we came to be.

 

These myths have a great effect on how we references ourselves and the world around us and fundamentally impact on the way we think and what we do. The myths from Adam and Eve to the Rainbow Serpent have been deemed just that, myths by our Western scientific worldview, which impudently replaces these myths with yet another. Yes, at the end of this road there aren’t any answers, just beliefs and what most people holding a Western scientific worldview believe in is materialism, that we are merely arrangements of atoms, tiny bits of inanimate stuff that somehow have come together over aeons to raise a conscious sentient being to be able to inquire about the world around us.

 

However, materialism is not only banal as far as myths go, it’s a misnomer as it completely disregards a lot of the what current cutting edge quantum science is saying, where the real frontier has shifted. In truth, our ultimate origins need to have an element of myth, of belief, but if we’re going to run a myth to explain our world, why not replace our current archaic worldview with a contemporary scientific version?  After all, the wildly varying worldviews that people latch onto these days have left many at odds with both their fellow man and the environment in which we live, as can be seen by the variety in debates raging across society.

 

What I seek to do in my novel, Iniquity and The Separation of Being, is to offer an alternative, a creation myth that is not formulated by culture or religion alone or an archaic science, but by exploring some of the latest theories from the science of quantum mechanics tempered with Eastern philosophy.

 

As Part 1 of this article series portrayed, we are quintessentially beings of indescribable dimensions. Science over the last 100 years and particularly over the last few decades is beginning to reveal a picture of what we are that is almost incomprehensible, but adds some fundamentals to our understanding of our nature of being. In this article I will describe 7 scenarios that use various theories articulating aspects of quantum science – and what they point to will change you, perhaps forever (or it should).

 

  1. We’re all being beamed up from the quantum world

An example of this offered in Part 1 of this series, (originally this series was called ‘WE’RE ALL BEING BEAMED UP INTO MATERIAL ENTANGLEMENT A BAZILLION TIMES A SECOND – Well, According to Quantum Physics Anyway’) suggested the mass of each atom and hence the weight of your body, is only 10 percent attributable to the material aspect of the atoms you and I are made up of (the protons and neutrons that make up a atomic nucleus) and in fact 90 percent of your weight comes from the space between the quarks in a proton, where virtual particles are bursting in and out of existence at timescales so small you can’t even witness them, even scientifically [1]. And if you think about that for a second, the only conclusion that we can draw is that we are indeed being ‘beamed up’, as it were, where every atom of every cell in our body is materialising from some unknown subatomic realm a bazillion times a second, in a constant flux of energy. Yes we are actually insubstantial structures of what only appears at the macro level to be mass. Our bodies and in fact everything around us is a constant stream of energy, like the static on a TV screen, or the flame of a candle.

 

This we know through very detailed empirical quantum science. [2] Science is very good at working out the material world, how it ticks and operates. With powerful space telescopes our cosmos has revealed many of its mysteries and at the micro scale, we’ve split the atom and have an extraordinarily impressive working knowledge of the subatomic realm, which is the body of science known as the standard model of physics.

 

2. Our atomic structure sits in a quantum realm of weirdness

 

In fact, the standard model describes a quantum world at atomic scales that is nothing like our own. But let’s take a step back. How small is quantum scale? Well to give you some indication if the human body was the size of the Earth then a red blood cell would be the size of a Olympic swimming pool, and if a red blood cell were the size of the Earth a carbon atom would be the size of a football field.[3] That’s the quantum or nanoscale and at this scale matter, the same matter that makes up our material reality acts very strangely indeed. In fact we call these bits of matter at these scales ‘particles’ but they just don’t act, as we would think, like a particle of sand but just a much, much smaller particle of sand.

 

Matter on these scales acts in very strange ways indeed. Particles on the quantum scale pop in and out of existence, they can be at two places at the same time, called superposition.[4] They an be entangled in space and time[5], meaning what you do to one is done to the other even if they are on the other side of the universe, which defies all our classical physics. They in fact act as sort of a wave, smeared across space and are in essence non-local [6], meaning they do not have a particular location in space. In the natural state the universe exists as a kind of wave as represented by the wave function or the Schrödinger equation which predicts the functioning of this wave-like indescribable reality that is the universe in its natural state [7].

 

3. The hard stuff we’re made from phases out into nothing

 

As we look deep inside ourselves, into our cells, and the atoms making up our cells we fast begin to see that the atoms themselves have no substance. They are not only insubstantial: almost all of ordinary matter (99.9999999% of it) is empty space, which means that if you took out all the empty space in between out atoms the entire 7 billion-strong human race would fit into the size of a sugar cube.[8]Atoms are actually not bits of stuff (like tiny bits of sand) at all. They are centres of energy or fields of energy that are very hard to even comprehend. What we mean by the physicality of an atom is almost impossible to ascertain.[9]

 

‘The nature of what a physical property itself is, is now in absolute doubt. The atom is no longer the bastion of all physical truth. Quantum mechanics and the standard model impart a view of nature where charge and spin and charm and strangeness are in fact descriptors of subatomic characteristics of physical reality, which are not merely hard to perceive, but are beyond human comprehension, mathematical oddities that exist and can be verifiable through the most sensitive of scientific assessment but are meaningless to our processing abilities of understanding. So we are left in metaphysical no man’s land, quite literally, a realm where man’s understanding cannot tread to make sense of the reality from which he propagates and on which his fundamental essence rests.’ [10]

 

 

4. We’re not just people – We are processes/systems

 

So what insight does this lend to a conversation about what (not who) we are? Well we’re not as Alan Watts said just centres of awareness locked up in bags of skin. It seems inescapable, based on these standard model observations, that we are an energy field of sorts, rather than solid matter as we think in the business as usual world we live in. But unlike a blast of energy that just dissipates, we have a constancy about us. This is actually known as negative entropy. Negative entropy systems are a marvel of universal phenomena that quite naturally retain a constant form over time. When we cut ourselves we heal, almost miraculously, by microscopic agents that go about their business remedying our ailments, repairing our system over time, such that we retain a constant dimension over time. So as Alfred North Whitehead suggested there are no real objects or substances of matter but fields, energy that exists due to the dynamics of the systems/processes in the universe. [11]

 

Not quite a revelation for you as yet? (that is if you actually thought for more than a fleeting moment) – well, this is really just the tip of the iceberg as we go down the rabbit hole of cutting edge quantum theory.   

 

5. Consciousness could be produced within nanoscopic structures in the brain called microtubules

 

When it comes to the inner world, when it comes to our mind and how that actually operates science is rather quiet. In fact, when we talk of consciousness, of our mind and how experience, your experience of reading this article for example, and how everything in your experience works, well science is silent. That in fact is known as ‘the Hard Problem’ in science. Mainstream science even ignores the problem altogether as either a given or mere subjectivity, which does not aid scientific inquiry. Some scientists even go as far as suggesting there is no such thing as consciousness, that it is an illusion [12], which I think is plainly bizarre. How can anyone deny that their experiential reality is real? But more and more science cannot deny the importance of experience, of consciousness. For example, the placebo effect is staggering and suggests that just believing you will get over an illness, just applying a positivity to your consciousness, gives you a much better chance of doing so [13]. ‘Mind over matter’ is a medically proven scientific fact and so, slowly science is finding it increasing hard to deny or even ignore the mind. But what is it and how does it work?

 

We can turn to one theory for answers, called Orch-OR, a theory put together in the 1990’s by Stuart Hameroff, a world renowned anesthesiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, and Roger Penrose, one of the greatest minds in consciousness science today, who worked with the likes of Stephen Hawking to nut out our understanding of the Big Bang itself.

 

Orch-OR, suggests at the deepest levels of biology there are nanoscale structures called microtubules deep inside the neurons in the brain. These structures were initially thought of as a kind of neuronal skeleton, but Orch-OR postulates that these structures could be the bed in which consciousness rests. These structures allow matter under superpositions traversing the wave function of the universe (If you have not read Part 1 and 2 of this article it may be worthwhile reviewing these before you continue), to spontaneously become one reality - and that is thought to be the moment of consciousness awareness in a ‘collapse of the wave function’—an event in which quantum superpositions terminate by a particular type of state reduction due to an objective threshold in the superfine scale structure of the universe (‘orchestrated objective reduction’, ‘Orch-OR’). Rather than a property of matter, Orch-OR views consciousness as a sequence of discrete events, like (conscious) frames in a movie, rearrangements in the fine scale structure of reality. [14 ] According to the theory there might be forty or so collapses every second, so forty or so conscious moments a second, which over and over again is producing a stream of conscious experience. Think of it as a kind of heart beat in the brain, a brain beat if you will, that produces consciousness, human consciousness itself.’ [15]

 

If Hameroff and Penrose are right, there are some startling revelations that arise about what we are as human beings, as we traverse down the rabbit hole. The first may not be so startling for many of you, the fact that we are system of negative entropy that actually produces consciousness – well the startling thing is that they have actually hypothesised a mechanism that may well account for the arising of consciousness in the brain. No-one has come even remotely close to doing that, which gives us a framework to start testing this hypothesis, which is being done with some corroborating evidence already forthcoming. Just as a side note, if you think about it again for more than a fleeting moment, it may well be that this species of self-sustaining negative entropy that produces consciousness may not exist throughout the boundless dimensions of infinite space, aside from this little blue speck of dust we call Earth. For all we know, this is the case, and in this event how rare, how precious then is this thing called life on planet Earth? 

 

6. We may be co-creating the material world in each conscious moment

 

But the altogether more startling revelation takes place when we extrapolate what it could mean if Orch-OR mechanism is allowed to play out. Imagine for a moment if in accordance with Orch-OR, consciousness occurs through the collapse of the wave function 40 times a second, such that 40 conscious moments are experienced. [15] What would be actually taking place in each conscious moment then, as the collapse the wave function into one conscious point of experience takes place across all those microtubules in the brain? 

 

According to Orch-OR and the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics, it is indeed our observation, or consciousness that causes the wave function to collapse. And to this end, Orch-OR postulates that consciousness occurs in the brain where tiny bits of matter at the nanoscale are held in superposition within structures of the neurons called microtubules. It is the quantum collapse of the wave function of these bits of matter in superposition into one distinct reality that is the process of consciousness. That is a pretty epic definition for consciousness, but it is current scientific theory albeit by some of the biggest minds in the business. 

 

So what does this all mean? How does this inform us further as to what we are, as beings? The significance is that taking the effect of Orch-OR and the Copenhagen Interpretation to its logical conclusion we don’t just receive information from the external world and process this to experience and make sense of the world around us. The material world is invoked in a pact, in a collusion between the biophysical processes that occur in your brain and the indescribable wave function of the universe in its natural state. In other words conscious experience, your consciousness experience, is a quantum state that occurs in a collaboration between you and the universe around you, such that consciousness localises the entire material world in your conscious field of experience. The material world does not merely exist, while you experience that existence. Your existence, your consciousness co-creates the material world that you experience around you, in that the collapse of the wave function determines one discernible reality in each conscious moment.

 

And as such it can be asked whether the consciousness you perceive, rather than being created by the material world around it, as is current scientific hegemony, is the fountainhead of matter, a precursor to the material world itself. Put another way, we would not be able to have any experience of the material world except through the biophysical process of consciousness.   

 

People have asked since part 2 of this article series, what is this indescribable wave-like function of the universe that collapses? Simply it is the universe in its natural state which is beyond human comprehension.  Imagine yourself without any senses. No sight, no hearing, no taste, to touch, nothing at all. What would you experience? It is quite indescribable, yet you exist and so does the universe. So the universe in its natural state – without you the conscious observer, exists but its existence is quite indescribable. [16]

 

So the universe exists as a wave, an indescribable reality, until your brain invokes the biophysical process that is consciousness to in some way ‘entangle’ with the universe around it. And it is that process of ‘Material Entanglement’, coined in the novel Iniquity and the Separation of Being, as the process where all of material reality around you, via your senses, sight and sound and taste and smell is referenced in one conscious moment following the next, such that a stream of consciousness or conscious experience is created. Material Entanglement creates an interdependent reality between the wave function, the natural state of the universe, and your conscious being.

 

As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, note I did not say independent reality, consciousness doesn’t create the universe. That would be solipsistic. Consciousness invokes the material world as we experience it, by localising it at a quantum scale. There are indeed two parts to the equation: the universe and the biophysical processes in your brain. It takes consciousness to invoke the material dimension of the world we know at a frequency of 40 hertz.

 

 

THE DOUBLE SLIT EXPERIMENT - A PROOF OF MATERIAL ENTANGLEMENT?

 

The double slit experiment is perhaps the most famous experiment in quantum physics. Yet, it has never been interpreted with any rational sense since it was first conducted a hundred years ago. But using Orch-OR and Material Entanglement model we can attempt to interpret its results and use this most famous experiment to illustrate a proof of the Material Entanglement interpretation.

 

If you are unfamiliar with the double slit experiment or need a refresher, please review this link.

 

You’ll recall in the double slit experiment there are two separate scenarios, one when the photons are shot one at a time, through a double slit, yet creating an interference pattern on the second screen, where the photons seems to be going through both slits at the same time. This of course is the indescribable wavelike property of the material world at the quantum scale. The same thing applies to all kinds of matter at the quantum scale.

 

But what about the second scenario, where a detector is placed at the screen with the double slits? When we detect what is happening at the screen (or observe what is happening at the screen), the photons act like particle in our material world, going through one slit or the other. When we do not detect (or observe) them, they act as a wave. 

 

The difficulty has always been how to interpret particularly this paradox. Are the photons conscious or proto-conscious in some way? How do the ‘know’ what we are doing? There is also a version of the experiment where scientists put the detector at the double slit screen but do not turn it on. And still - we get interference. So are the photons conscious of our thoughts? 

 

We can solve this problem by superimposing the Material Entanglement interpretation. It is a fact that entanglement is not just an obscure phenomena that is created in the lab. It happens all over nature. And it may just happen in conscious experience. So it is not that the photons are conscious, it is that your consciousness localises the photon from a wavelike existence in the natural state of the universe, into material existence. You see, as discussed above, consciousness itself co-creates the material world around us in a process of Material Entanglement.

 

When we observe the photon we are in fact invoking its material state. It does not matter whether we unplug the detector, when the detector is not plugged in we are not observing the double slit; the photons don’t need to know this, only our conscious minds acted out in each conscious moment.

 

At the superfine scale of the universe the process of consciousness entangles the wave-like function of the universe with the biophysical processes in your brain such that matter itself, photons and atoms, (and hence the entire material world around us) are being localised upon observation, their defined material state in the material world is caused to be, co-created in conscious experience. Without consciousness then the world as we know it is nondescript, undefined, not just unknown to us but completely unknowable.

 

Though this is the metaphysical interpretation of a theory, applied to the double slit experiment, it does offer a plausible rationalisation of the results and may be a doorway to view more concisely the world as we know it.

 

7. Time could be a by-product of consciousness

 

If this is correct, it fundamentally reforms our world view. If consciousness is a necessary condition for material existence what are the ramifications?

 

Imagine this - a ethereal being that not only subsists in a realm of quantum weirdness and is being 'beamed-up' a bazillion times a second to our material world, as it were, but is the author of its entire world, that infuses the universe with material being - could that be us? Where the entire material world is a constant flux of energy caused to materialize into form by consciousness?  

 

Could it even be that consciousness invokes time itself, as a by-product of the process of Material Entanglement as described above? In this case, linear time as we experience it is an illusion and only occurs as a stream of discreet conscious moments. The central notion is that time is not an independent quantity or dimension to the universe but integrally and directly referenced to conscious experience. 'How does all our clocks show the same time then?' I hear many of you ask, isn’t that proof that time is a constant in the universe. Well actually, time is not a constant – clocks require time-keeping and, ever seen the movie Interstellar? Time warps and bends depending upon the speed you travel at and the gravitation impulse you experience, which is simply Einstein’s Relativity at play [17], and if you could enter another solar system through a wormhole and experience the gravity of a black hole and then return to Earth the quantity of time you experience would be vastly different to those on Earth.

 

This idea that there is no such thing as linear time and that it is invoked by consciousness, though radical for scientific endeavour, is not new. It consolidates a world view known as panpsychism that suggests matter has an element of consciousness and consciousness cannot be understood unless grounded in matter. In fact pre-Socratic philosophers took the view that mind was part of the natural world. Buddhist philosophy is centred on experiencing the conscious moment in its raw essence. There are many scientists and philosophers turning to panpsychism as a real alternative to materialism, which seems more and more to be archaic when considering the latest advances in quantum physics. Contemporary quantum physics could usher in a new understanding of ourselves that could fundamentally change our modern worldview.

 

Though we have come a long way in scientific discovery, let us remember we are only at the beginning of this journey and many of our concepts are still in their infancy, grasping and even sometimes contrived. Much research is required to verify this hypothesis, the Material Entanglement interpretation of consciousness. But this is not just a radical afterthought, the geniuses that uncovered the scientific principles in the field of quantum physics have suggested the Orch-OR mechanism. The Material Entanglement interpretation extrapolates the Orch-OR mechanism to reflect our everyday observation, which proposes an explanation of scientific phenomena such as the double slit experiment and a new model by which to view the reality of consciousness.  

 

It was one hundred years ago Bertrand Russell said ‘Physics is becoming as ghostly as anything in a séance’. Contemporary quantum physics describes a world that is almost more than our mind can begin to comprehend. But we need to attempt to revise our understanding of ourselves as what we are to include the fundamentals of what our most cutting edge science is telling us.

 

 

Feel free to leave your comments, questions and thoughts below this article.     

 

References

  1. According to Lawrence Krauss [in his book A Universe from Nothing] "virtual particles that pop in and out of existence in the empty spaces of the protons contribute 90% of the particle's weight/mass." Skip to 20:07 if you're interested, access his lecture at <YouTube> ; "So ninety-nine percent of the mass in every nucleus is the energy pushing the quarks together," extract from article What Are All Those Quarks Doing in Your Body? access at <Gizmodo> ; A good discussion of Virtual Particles in < Scientific American  > access

  2. Some good answers to Why is quantum mechanics called the most precisely tested theory in the history of science,<Quora access>

  3. Some relative sizes, <Quora access

  4. Superposition, access at<Physics.org>

  5. Nonlocality and entanglement<Scientific American access>

  6. A good discussion of Non-Locality in<Scientific American access>

  7. A simple <YouTube> explanation of Schrödinger's Cat

  8. You Could Fit The Entire Human Race Into A Sugar Cube access < IFL Science>

  9. How do we know things are really made of atoms - article <access BB Earth> ; Atoms as fields <Quora access>

  10. Iniquity and the Separation of Being access at <www.separationofbeing.com>

  11. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy <Alfred North Whitehead (1861—1947) access>

  12. Neil Degrasse Tyson says there is no evidence for consciousness <Quora access>

  13. The Placebo Effect : Amazing and Real <Harvard access>

  14. Orch-OR review by Hameroff from Science Direct access at <Science Direct>

  15. Stuart Hameroff discusses consciosuness using the Orch-OR model .... see at [48.34] access at <Youtube>

  16. Considering that the universe always was and shall always be, its dynamics and evolution is described as wave function. The wave function of the universe is constructed through the single particle wave functions of its constituent particles. This formalism considers the universe as any other system in quantum mechanics and it reproduces many results including a relation connecting time, temperature and the cosmological constant of the universe. J. B. Hartle and S. W. Hawking have attempted to explain this Wave Function of the Universe. Access at < Physic Review

  17. Time dilation discussion <Quora access>

 

 

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